An Alabama Hold on Carter

The two Senators from Alabama reportedly have locked up the confirmation of Ashton Carter, President Obama’s pick to lead Pentagon acquisition, amid new concerns over the KC-X tanker replacement program. During his March 26 confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Carter responded to repeated questions from Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) that he would apply “best value” in the competition, saying he would consider price, quality, and capabilities in calling it “like I see it.” According to various news reports, both Sessions and fellow Alabama Republican Sen. Richard Shelby have fresh concerns. Shelby said in an April 3 statement, “It is of the utmost importance that the new tanker competition be conducted in an open and transparent manner based on a best value process.” In a separate statement, Sessions said he has “unanswered questions.” According to a report by National Journal’s Congress Daily, Shelby asked Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the armed service committee, to delay a full Senate vote on Carter until he can respond to additional questions. That won’t happen until after Congress returns from recess on April 20. (More in Mobile Press-Register report)